The Sudanese Displaced Children's Learning Centre

by Rebecca Atallah


Alzalal's face was sad as she described her situation. She and her nine children escaped to Cairo from the Nuba Mountains in Sudan a couple of years previously. Her husband had been murdered by Sudanese soldiers carrying out ethnic cleansing in their area with thousands of other men and boys. She fled to Cairo with her children, and is now living hand to mouth through cleaning houses, along with help from church groups and aid from the United Nations (UN). 

What made Alzalal distraught on this day was news she had received from the doctor. She has a serious nerve disease in her right arm which will make it impossible for her to work.


The story of Alzalal is typical of families whose children attend the Sudanese Displaced Children's Learning Centre (SDCLC) in a poor area of Cairo. This school is mainly made up of refugee children from the Nuba Mountains and many are from one-parent families. This means that the mothers have to work full-time. Consequently, the children spend their early lives locked up in their apartments and, as they grow, they move out to live on the streets. Because of this, many Sudanese gangs have committed violent crimes on the streets of Cairo.



It was out of such a situation, in 1998, that a couple from the Nuba Mountains began a small school in their living room. Mojo and Omgomaa were not Christians when they moved to Egypt, but they have found the Lord. Realising that the Sudanese refugees around them had no schooling and were not allowed to attend the local Egyptian schools, they began a class for these children in their home. As the school outgrew their small apartment, they found expatriates who helped them to rent a meeting place.


The Lord has provided the rented, six-storey apartment building in which the SDCLC now meets. It has developed into an organised school, run by 27 staff with two shifts per day, serving about 350 students from primary through to secondary school.


The mission of the SDCLC is to provide an education with a Christian ethos. The focus is on character development, life-skills training and the opportunity for college preparation, to enable students to live fulfilling adult lives.



Our vision is to provide students with a proper learning environment that equips them to successfully progress through the Sudanese curriculum, and also to develop proficiency in Arabic and English. We have already seen a positive impact on the Sudanese refugee community through providing a Christian education for their children. As they develop a relationship with Jesus Christ, the children positively influence their families. If and when our graduates return to Sudan, they will also be able to provide spiritual, academic and even political leadership in that country. 


Ruwa is a lovely orphan girl in Grade 11 at the SDCLC. Her father was murdered in the Nuba mountains when she was little and her mother fled to Egypt with her and her siblings. Unfortunately, her mother died in Cairo about three years ago. She describes it in her own words: "Really, I hate it here because it is the place where I lost my mum. I want to go back home to Sudan, but I want to go there...with my certificate. I want to be an engineer or a doctor but it is difficult. Right now I am a singer and...I have a group calledThe Team of Hope, and we are praising and worshipping God." Ruwa is an inspiration.



In the early years of their education, the children use an engaging English curriculum calledWay Ahead, published by Macmillan and paid for by the UN. However, by Grade 8 the students change to the Sudanese government curriculum, in order to receive an internationally recognised degree upon graduation. SDCLC also offers regular Bible teaching, although its Muslim children (about 15% of the student body) have the option not to attend these classes. We hope and pray that our graduates will become strong Christian leaders in their communities, whether in Egypt or in Sudan.



Each day many of our students come to school hungry, having only had biscuits and tea for breakfast. In response to this need we developed a daily breakfast programme for them which, in some cases, was the most nourishing food they received all day. However, this took up an increasing amount of our budget, as food prices in Egypt have soared. We have regrettably had to cancel the breakfast programme.



Unfortunately, our school does not have a playground, but we have made two ground floor rooms into a play space for the lower grades. The older children are taken to a nearby club twice a week to allow them to play sports. We recognise that physical education is very important, especially to these refugees who live in very small and crowded apartments, and we pray that we can continue the sports programme this school year. 



 Our school can never become truly sustainable, due to the fact that the students are refugees, and whole families exist hand to mouth and can't afford all of the school fees. Their fees make up only a small part of our budget.


The School Board acts as the governing body of the SDCLC. We are from seven different countries, simply having in common a love for the Sudanese refugees, and a passion to give them the gift that we all had when young - the gift of education.


We need your prayers most of all. God has performed many miracles for these children and their parents, and He will not fail them now. The Board are certain that, as we all unite to pray for the SDCLC, He will continue to work!


If you wish to support this work, funds can be transferred through Echoes.

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